As the second generation iPad and a raft of rival devices continue to find their way into businesses and homes around the country, IFAonline finds out if IFAs really need a tablet...
The first thing you need to know about the iPad is it is everywhere.
The media is obsessed with the iPad, so you'll see it in the hands of F1 presenters in the pit lane, in the latest movies as not-so-subtle pieces of product placement and sometimes even as a prop on a news bulletin to allow the anchor to be a bit more 'interactive'.
Of course, the success of the iPad has led to a flotilla of competitors entering the market with alternative solutions, many of them running on the rival Android platform.
The recent news of Sony's entrance into the tablet market only added to the momentum, and they have fast overtaken netbooks as the portable device du jour.
But is it all hype or can they really be useful to IFAs?
Martin Bamford, managing director of Informed Choice, has had a first generation iPad now for almost a year and regularly uses it in client meetings.
He said: "The main work-related apps for me are email, calendar (which I synchronise wirelessly with MS Outlook on my PC and the calendar on my iPhone with Mobile Me), and the iBooks application.
"This lets me store PDF files on the iPad, including all of our Investment Outlook reports and associated fund research. I have fun using the iPad with clients, particularly to show them their online wrap accounts.
"We have a large TV monitor in the meeting room for this, but sometimes it is more personal to share the iPad rather than show valuations and presentations on the big screen."
For those not familiar with smartphones and the latest mobile devices, ‘apps', or applications, are fancy names for what we would call software on computers.
True Potential is among the firms to offer dedicated iPad apps for financial advisers, while there are also a raft of options for business and finance news.
Applications have also been developed for the iPad's rivals, while many websites are tailored for tablet devices, effectively creating ‘web apps'.
Wingate Financial Planning director Alistair Cunningham has been following the development of the tablet market closely and has been using a Zoostorm Windows 7 Tablet.
He said: "The next year to eighteen months will be exciting with new releases from Apple, Google in both Android and Chrome OS flavours, and Windows - all interesting operating systems.
"There is also a clear drive for portability and longevity of battery life with hardware manufacturers, rather than the prior constant push towards more and more power."
Of course, anyone considering getting a tablet device does need to bear a few things in mind: they will rarely be as powerful as a laptop or PC and are generally not suited to tasks which require plenty of processor speed.
They also lack keyboards and switching between applications can get a little tedious compared to flicking between windows on a PC.
While most people will be familiar with the iPad, here a few of the alternatives available right now or in the future:
Blackberry PlayBook - BlackBerry's main advantage will be its familiarity to many business users and its reputation for strong email security. However, the lack of applications at the moment and its small screen size (7-inch) could limit its appeal.
Samsung Tab - With a screen almost half the size of the iPad's the Samsung Tab is more like a slightly enlarged smartphone than a tablet PC. However, its main strength is that it runs on the open-source Android platform
Motorla Xoom - Another Android-based tablet device and one which has got plenty of positive reviews already. One disadvantage shared by other non-Apple devices is the march the iPad had in terms of application development.
HP TouchPad - the webOs-based Touchpad is perhaps the strongest competitor to the iPad at the moment and could build on the strong reputation HP has with enterprise users.
Sony Tablet - The latest entrance to the market is Sony, which has unveiled two, android-based tablet devices. The S1 has one, 9.4-inch screen while the S2 has a pair of 5.5-inch screens, although neither is expected to be available until autumn.
OR YOU COULD JUST STICK TO...
Smartphones - Some of the latest smartphones have impressively large screens and can handle many of the apps used on tablets. They will be no good for writing documents or filling out spreadsheets, but at least they are actually portable in every sense.
Netbooks - The hype over netbooks may have passed, but they fill the gap between laptops and tablets and most run on the traditional, familiar Windows operating system. Poor battery life tends to be the biggest criticism.
Nothing - Until the release of the first iPad last year, tablet computers were very much niche products and were not seen as ‘must-have' devices. Every IFA probably has a laptop, PC or Mac - maybe that's all they really need.
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